Rabbits

If only rabbits really just ate carrots. The reality is, they are just as smart and wily and sarcastic (oh trust me) as Bugs Bunny, but really, they will eat anything, including plastic. They saunter down the rows of green beans nibbling off the growing tips, one by one. Amazingly, they don’t actually eat the beans, just the shoots and the flowers, which stunts the plants. But even worse, they have discovered our MELONS. I can’t tell you how heartbreaking it is to hunt around for these sweet gems, only to find the baseball-sized melon half eaten. They are voracious, and we honestly worry about our melon supply.  Did we plant enough for the CSA and the rabbits too?  We’ll find out!

What are we doing to control them, you ask? Well, we put up a fence. That worked for about two months until they started wriggling underneath it. Then they started having babies and the babies can get through the holes. I think we might have a benevolent coyote or a raptor, because one morning we arrived and there was a rabbit all tangled up in the fencing, missing a head. Let me explain, before you get teary eyed, that these are not cute cuddly rabbits. These are jack-rabbits, the lean, steely eyed, quick-witted ones that will out-smart you and then go eat your drip tape. Oh, yes, they’ve been chewing holes in our drip tape, which is probably the worst of their crimes. It means that each time we irrigate, it’s a farm circus for hours, as we run around trying to patch all the leaks springing from rows all over the field. What a headache. But I digress. In terms of pest control, we also have Gus. Gus is Aubrey’s ridiculously small, achingly adorable side-kick of the canine persuasion. If you are too close to the ground, he will attack your face with kisses until you fall over.

Gus our lean, mean, (albeit small) rabbit-hunting machine

He also hunts baby rabbits. He would try for the adults but his legs are much shorter. Much, much shorter. But his hunting skills are on the up and up.  Go Gus! Sasha is getting better at catching the babies by the hind legs. She got one back in June, and I relocated it to the Putah Creek Reserve, but not before getting attached (because I am a sucker for baby anything and I was concerned it wasn’t going to have enough food. I know, it’s embarrassing.)

Sasha exhibiting her rabbit-catching skills

Our current rabbit plan is to find where they are slipping in under the fence, and stake it down with some irrigation staples. We are also thinking about putting up some cardboard along the bottom two feet of fence to block their view of our oasis of food, and keep these babies from squeezing through the holes. Hopefully they can’t jump more than 5 feet high.  Ha.  I won’t make any bets on that.  The rabbit battle continues!

-Marisa

This week in your boxes:

Full share:

July Flame peaches (transitioning to organic)
Brittany gold apricots (transitioning to organic)
Flavor top nectarines (transitioning to organic)
Onion
Garlic
Basil
Parsley
Sweet corn
Cucumbers (organic from Mike  Madison’s farm, Yolo Bulb)
Chiogga beets
Cherry tomatoes
Shishito peppers
Jalapeño (hiding in the basil bag)
Chard
Okra
Summer squash (not organic from Susan Ellsworth)

Half share:

July Flame peaches (transitioning to organic)
Brittany gold apricots (transitioning to organic)
Flavor top nectarines (transitioning to organic)
Onion
Garlic
Basil
Cucumbers (organic from Mike  Madison’s farm, Yolo Bulb)
Parsley
Tomato
Jalapeño (hiding in the basil bag)

Fruit share:

July Flame peaches (transitioning to organic)
Brittany gold apricots (transitioning to organic)
Flavor top nectarines (transitioning to organic)
Triple crown blackberries (not organic from Bridgeway Farms)

Recipe of the week:

Sauteed Shishito Peppers (half share folks, you’ll receive Shishito peppers in the coming weeks)

Shishitos are a delicately sweet and usually mild pepper from Japan. They are often likened to Spain’s famous Padron peppers for the flavor. They are best when picked green and small. We love them sautéed in garlic and olive oil with a dash of coarse sea salt on top for a tasty snack.

Ingredients:

1 basket of shishito peppers

2 tbsp oil oil

2-3 cloves of garlic

Coarse sea salt to taste

Heat the olive oil on medium to high heat, add  garlic and peppers at the same time and toss. Sautee until peppers are slightly browned and wilted. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve. Yum.

Enjoy!

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Royal Blenheims

Today Sasha and I sat with a box of newest apricots to come on the scene: the Royal Blenheims. We carefully inspected them for color, taste, and texture in order to determine what they look like when they are ripe enough to eat, when they are overripe, and when they are immature. It only took about 10 of them, and it was a delicious experience. We learned that the Blenheims are tastiest when they have a bit of green on them. If they are completely orange, they start to get a bit smushy or mealy and then lose their flavor. If they are mostly green, they are hard and too tart. So the apricots that we will put into your baskets and sell at the farmstand will have good orange/yellow coloring on the “shoulders”, but there will also be some green on there somewhere.
After the farm I came home and looked up more information on Blenheims and turns out, we aren’t the first to discover this!
“The Blenheim is both sweet and tart with an intensely aromatic scent of honeysuckle. The apricot ripens from the inside out causing fruit pickers to develop specific harvesting habits for the apricot that included picking fruits that still had a faint green tinge.”
http://www.slowfoodusa.org/index.php/programs/ark_product_detail/blenheim_apricot/
Just wanted to make sure you all knew we were giving you green fruit for a reason.

The other exciting thing that happened on the farm today is that we were filmed for America’s Heartland, a TV Series on PBS. Many thanks to Liya Schwartzman of California FarmLink for suggesting The Cloverleaf’s collaboration with Rich as a land-linking success story. For those of you that don’t already know this story, California FarmLink helps prospective farmers find land, and land owners find farmers. Emma and Sasha went through FarmLink last year to find Rich Collins and Bridgeway Farms.
At this weekend’s filming, we each interviewed with the crew for about 15 minutes. They also filmed us doing our thing on the farm, which included picking apricots, pounding tomato stakes, setting up the farmstand and selling to customers. It was nerve-wracking for each of us to be in front of the camera, but it was also fun. Luckily, none of us knew at the time that this show has 1 million viewers! We will let you all know when it’s going to be aired. We always knew that farming would be our ticket to fame and fortune! 😉
-Marisa

Garlic Harvest

At the end of a farm day on Sunday, I craved pizza.  It was all I could think about.  At first I assumed our 12 hour work day had just stirred up a fierce appetite–but this craving was so specific.  I realized that my senses had been filled all day with the smell of fresh garlic.  We spent much of the day Sunday digging up our garlic that has been growing since November.  

In the winter, when our onions and garlic were the only plants in the ground, we tended them diligently.  But as the season moved forward, they lost our focus, and we lost sight of the garlic in a forest of dandelions.  Emma started referring to the northern edge of the field as the wild side.  I stressed that if we let the weeds grow too tall, we may lose the garlic.  But I heard a piece of advice from a fellow farmer that has quelled my worry (for more than just the garlic).  The advice was: sometimes, doing less is the best thing to do.  

Did leaving the weeds improve the garlic?  Not likely.  But by letting the weeds grow in the garlic, we could turn our attention to other crops and balance our time a bit.

And to our delight, we began to harvest garlic on Sunday and it is beautiful and fragrant, and will be a staple in your CSA boxes throughout the season.  And after transporting the garlic to storage, its smell will be a staple in my car for at least as long.    

After harvesting garlic, we hang it in bunches to cure it.  The stalks dry out completely to help prevent rot, and the flavors settle in a bit so the garlic is not so strong as when we first harvest it.  The garlic you’re receiving today has been curing for about a week.  You can use it now, or you can hang it up in your kitchen and let it cure for another couple of weeks.

Either way, its fragrance will make you crave pizza too.  If I were you, I’d roast the entire head of garlic and add roasted garlic cloves as a pizza topping.

How to roast a head of garlic:

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1-2 tsp. olive oil

Method:
Peel off the outer papery covering of the head of garlic.  Using a sharp knife, slice off 1/4″-1/2″ of the tops of the cloves, so that the inside of each clove is exposed.

Place the head on a square of aluminum foil (unless you have a small clay pot for roasting garlic.  In which case, I am envious).

Drizzle the olive oil over the top of the cloves, and use your fingers to spread it around well.  Fold up the foil over the top of the clove, so that it is fully enclosed.  Either place the pouch directly on the oven rack, or you can place it on a pan (or muffin tins work well if you’re roasting multiple heads of garlic).
Bake at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes, until the garlic is soft and lightly browned.  Remove from foil and remove individual cloves from paper. 

-Aubrey